Flight-Free Travel Lets You Explore Scenic Wonders Overland

Take the slow road with mindful travel.

Boy enjoying scenic train travel

(Black Salmon / Shutterstock.com)

Although air travel has decreased considerably over the last year due to COVID 19, the flight-free community trusts this cultural change will be long-lasting. They hope that many vacationers will be drawn to forms of slower travel instead, once the pandemic is over, as the Washington Post points out. Perhaps more people will enjoy savoring the experience of traveling through the world instead of flying above it!

This is the belief behind projects like Byway, a travel agency that aims to change the way we travel and to contribute to a more sustainable tourism industry by offering customized holidays that are flight free.

Such initiatives are to be celebrated if we bear in mind that the aviation industry accounts for 3.5 percent of global warming, as ourworldindata.org details. Also, emissions from flying are expected to triple by 2050 if demand for air travel keeps rising, a 2018 paper from the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reveals.

So what then are the alternatives for green-conscious and enthusiastic travelers? Research suggests that the most efficient ways to travel are walking, bicycle, or train, ourworldindata.org points out. 

If you were to use a bike instead of driving a car for a short trip, you would reduce travel emissions by 75 percent. And if you took a train instead of using a car for medium-length distances, you could easily cut emissions by 80 percent. Now, let’s say you took a train instead of a domestic flight. That means you will have have reduced emissions by 84 percent!

Europe is reviving the joys of old sleeper trains, with new overnight connections between cities like Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Rome, as described by timeout.com. This shows how this trend is transitioning from an expression of desire to a greener reality.Opting for slow travel is not only more sustainable, but it also provides a whole different experience for travelers. “We stand by the principle that traveling through the world is better than flying over it,” said Cat Jones, founder of Byway to positive.news: “There is just such romanticism and joy in journeys that go through.”

Currently, this boutique travel agency specializes in destinations in the UK, France and Italy. It offers one-of-a-kind crowd-free experiences, as it describes on its website. 

There are also other alternatives which don’t involve giving up on flying, aiming to create a more sustainable aviation industry. Researchers from the University of Oxford, for example, have found a way to turn CO2 into jet fuel at an affordable price.  

Some other approaches don't even require significant technological breakthroughs. Prioritizing carbon emissions when planning routes, using more efficient planes, optimizing flights for CO2 levels and not just on a cost basis, and the implementation of stronger policies, are just some alternatives, BBC.com details.

To sum up, here are some useful ideas ourworldindata.org suggests on how you can reduce your carbon footprint when traveling. 

For short distances try to walk, run or use a bicycle. This not only contributes to reducing air pollution, but it is also healthier. On the other hand, trains are nearly always the best option for moderate and long distances

Planning to travel abroad? Take a train or sail by boat since both options generate lower emissions than flying. If you choose a domestic destination instead, keep in mind that taking a train and even driving is better than flying there.

If driving is your only alternative, consider car-sharing which is significantly better than driving alone. This reduces your footprint, air pollution and traffic congestion. If possible, opt for electric cars that are powered by renewable sources.

So now that you know overland traveling has so many benefits, are you ready to book your next destination? You might discover incredible scenic routes while helping take care of the environment.

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